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A "random group of misfits" or being "part of something bigger"? Exploring experiences of attending a non-religious congregation.

PMID: 35257631 (view PubMed database entry)
DOI: 10.1080/17482631.2021.2021618 (read at publisher's website )
PMCID: PMC8925926 (free full text version available)

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Rowena Blackburn, Carly Jim, Aspasia Eleni Paltoglou,

<h4>Purpose</h4>Religion is an important part of many people's lives and there is some evidence that attending church or other religious congregations is positively associated with psychological well-being. However, religious participation is declining in Western Europe and North America. Sunday Assembly is a non-religious gathering that intends to provide a similar communal experience and a sense of spirituality to the church, but without the religious element. In the current study, we aimed to explore the experiences of and motivations for attending a non-religious congregation in relation to well-being.<h4>Methods</h4>A qualitative approach was taken, gathering data through semi-structured interviews with participants from Sunday Assembly congregations across England.<h4>Results</h4>Thematic analysis was used and three key themes were found: (1) searching for meaning and community, (2) Sunday Assembly as protective of mental health, and (3) loneliness in a crowd.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Sunday Assembly can provide a sense of belonging and improvement in mental health through shared experience and spirituality, and it can act as a coping mechanism during difficult times. Further research could explore the benefits of Sunday Assembly upon attendee's mental health, test the effectiveness of Sunday Assembly as a coping mechanism, and whether continued attendance improves mood over time.

Int J Qual Stud Health Well-being (International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being)
[2022, 17(1):2021618]

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